2011 to test Hart’s man-management skills

There’s an interesting post up at Out of Touch about Dwayne De Rosario. In the immediate aftermath of Canada’s 2-2 draw with the Ukraine on October 8, a spirited debate broke out on the Voyageurs’ board regarding the future usefulness of both DeRo and his TFC colleague Julian de Guzman in the Canada side.

The argument against including those two in the starting eleven is simple: Canada has recently got results without them. But perhaps the debate is irrelevant already. As Out of Touch notes, DeRo has only started two of Canada’s last 16 matches.

I’d say the bigger litmus test for those two is whether either or both would be willing to accept a substitute role with Canada instead of the automatic starters they’ve been until now.

If Hart continues with 4-3-3 (or 4-5-1 or whatever it is) it’s hard to argue that DeRo should start over Simpson or Jackson on the wing, or Atiba in the central attacking role. Julian I think should remain a first-choice in one of the two defensive-mid roles.

But what happens if Hart gets Julian’s younger brother Jonathan de Guzman and/or David Hoilett to play for Canada against Greece in February? He’s hinted recently that both are still on his radar. Who do you move to make room for either of those two?  How fair would it be for desperately loyal and slowly improving Simeon Jackson to lose his spot to Jon de Guzman? For all we know Jackson may be a starter in the Premier League next year with a promoted Norwich. (And getting more minutes than Blackburn’s David Hoilett.)

Both Simpson and Hutchinson are playing well at reasonably high-level clubs in Europe, so I can’t see them losing a spot either.

Critics of Canadian soccer may howl at the idea I’m writing a post about problems with an excess of talent in national team, but this is not about elite, world-class players. It’s about a clump of decent players that primarily play one position and only X spots available on the pitch to make things work. That burdens teams at all levels and is usually resolved by a strong hand at the tiller – i.e., the manager.

Would DeRo and Julian de Guzman be willing to accept roles on the subs bench at next year’s Gold Cup? Would Hoilett or Jonathan de Guzman jump off the fence and play for Canada knowing they aren’t guaranteed playing time?

We always hear about Stephen Hart and how he earned the Canada job at least partly because of his skills in man-management. The players like him. But when the stakes are low it’s easy to be liked. Unfortunately for Hart he’s dealing with a Canada squad that is increasingly far from just “picking itself.” If he can lure the talented new faces into the squad while keeping the influential veterans happy with less playing time, Canada’s shot at 2014 won’t be quite so long.

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8 Responses to “2011 to test Hart’s man-management skills”

  1. To add to your point, if our attack suddenly boasts David Hoilett, do we pair him with the ever-improving Jackson or the should-be-great-but-usually-disappoints Rob Friend?

    • Well that begs the question of how good Hoilett really is. Most of us are assuming he’d be a starter simply because he’s training with a Premier League club, but who’s to say that he’d suddenly be a first choice pick for the starting XI? I could see him being used as the top striker with Simpson and Jackson on the wings, that’d be an awesome triumvirate of SuperCanuck domination.

    • We play a 4-3-3!!!! Everyone keeps talking about strike partnerships but the odds of Hart moving away from the 4-3-3 he’s used throughout this stint with the CMNT is next to nothing. So we have to assume we’re only going to be playing with one forward and two wingers. In this case I think Jackson and Simpson have claimed the wing postions until someone proves they are bettter suited for the role. As for the striker that is still up in the air as Friend hasn’t really “made the position his own”

  2. Serie_AHH Says:

    At DeRo’s age he shouldn’t be expecting an automatic place in the starting XI.

    I don’t think that you automatically award starting spots because of where you play. If Hoilett and JDG2 come into camp and earn a spot then that is fine.

    I would find it a little funny if JDG2 finally chose Canada and doesn’t get the playing time he expects. What a rude wake up call that would be for the wannabe Dutchman.

    I do get the sense of arrogance from the JDG’s. Julian seems like he takes his club career far too lightly and Jono has always seemed to think he’s too good for Canada. I’m not sure either of those personalities are good for a team looking to go where they have only ever been once before.

    • Interesting view on the de Guzmans. I’ve wondered what kind of impact Jules has had on the Nats locker room since his move away from Europe. He hasn’t seemed to have owned that ‘play his heart out for the home town team’ mentality, and I wonder if that is just an attitude shift he’s had recently. Negative things in an important situation (in JDG’s case, blacklisting in Europe) can leave quite the impression and change the way a person acts.

  3. I think it will be very interesting to see who accepts the call to the GoldCup squad.

    -Will DeRo decide to play for this GoldCup, remembering that he turned down the team last time?

    -Will Bunbury finally accept the call and allow himself to be cap-tied?

    -Will Julian talk his brother into playing and would that give Julian a much needed kick in the pants with his on-field play?

    There may not be alot of on-field success, but there are alot of interesting subplots. Hopefully, Hart will figure this Rubix Cube out in time.

  4. If we get Jonathan De Guzman, maybe he could play as a fullback, like a Canadian Roberto Carlos?

  5. Jamie Gordon Says:

    Hoilet will be Canada’s best player, if he choses Canada.

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